The Eighteenth Century English Garden Stourhead Still Enchants

How I remember the day I visited the garden at Stourhead, a couple of hours drive west of London. The landscape of 2,650 acres dates to the mid 1700s. The day I walked around the garden felt like a history lesson.

David Stuart in his book The Garden Triumphant: A Victorian Legacy writes about Stourhead in these words, “A Georgian landscape garden, with its groves, lakes and temples, is immediately recognizable; quite as easily as a high-Victorian one, with its bedding schemes, rustic seats, iron urns, and statuary.”

Stourhead takes on a special glow in the fall. The colors go on forever. I found this image, for which I give thanks to Great British Gardens. [below]

Stourhead in the Fall [Courtesy of Great British Gardens]

Stourhead in the Fall [Courtesy of Great British Gardens]

The modern landscape gardening that emerged in the early 1700s looked on landscape as an art like painting and music.  So it’s no surprise that you walk the garden at Stourhead to view the surprises that await you in the landscape.

In his book The English Garden Edward Hyams calls Henry Hoare (1705-1785), the genius behind Stourhead. Hoare who had inherited the property saw to its design according to his own vision.

Hyams writes, “Hoare was the forerunner of the landscape school of the gardener-poet Shenstone and Capability Brown and it is certainly arguable that he was not only the forerunner but the supreme master, and that none of the professionals who came after this amateur accomplished as great a work.”

The grotto and the Palladium bridge make up only a part of the experience around the lake, which forms the center of the landscape.

Nicolette Scourse writes in her book The Victorians and their Flowers that Victorian interest in gardens with temples of Greek and Roman inspiration made visits popular to a garden such as Stourhead even a hundred years after Hoare designed it.

The eighteenth century English garden Stourhead still enchants.

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